LALIGA WEEKEND PREVIEW: Real Madrid and Barcelona go head to head in second Clasico of the season


It could all come down to this. The second Clasico of the season could play a crucial part in who is crowned as champions of LaLiga this season.

The title race pendulum swung back in Barcelona‘s favour last weekend after Real Madrid suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of Levante.

Lionel Messi was at his ever best as he smashed four of Barca’s five past Eibar in an emphatic victory to see the Catalan giants reclaim their place at the summit of the table.

Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns for the second time in El Clasico this Sunday evening

Real Madrid and Barcelona lock horns for the second time in El Clasico this Sunday evening

MATCHDAY 26

Friday, February 28

Real Sociedad v Valladolid (8pm)

Saturday, February 29

Eibar v Levante (12pm)

Valencia v Real Betis (3pm)

Leganes v Alaves (5.30pm)

Granada v Celta Vigo (8pm) 

Sunday, March 1

Sevilla v Osasuna (11am)

Athletic Bilbao v Villarreal (1pm)

Espanyol v Atletico Madrid (3pm)

Mallorca v Getafe (5.30pm)

Real Madrid v Barcelona (8pm) 

Barcelona’s controversial signing Martin Braithwaite made his debut for Quique Setien’s side and went on to play a part in the win while it was more bad news for Real as they lost Eden Hazard to injury.

This weekend’s round of fixtures could also prove to be the one of the most pivotal at both ends of the table with Champions League places up for grabs while those in the relegation zone continue to slog it out. 

Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are locked in a battle for third place with each side sitting on 43 points while Getafe – who lost 3-0 to Los Palanganas last weekend – are just a point behind both in fifth.

But what can we expect from this weekend’s fixtures? 

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at all the action going into a jam-packed weekend in Spain’s top flight.

Real Sociedad vs Real Valladolid – Friday, 8pm

The first of this weekend’s action kicks off in the Basque country where Real Sociedad welcome 15th-place Real Valladolid to the Anoeta Stadium.

La Real currently find themselves in and around the Europa League places and are just three points adrift of third-place Atletico.

The hosts are in the midst of a fine run of form after putting up four consecutive victories, including a remarkable Copa del Rey win over Real Madrid.

Valladolid, meanwhile, are at the other end of the spectrum. While they are seven points clear of the drop zone and just three points off 10th, a poor run could see them fall further into trouble.

The visitors did manage to walk away with a 2-1 win over rock-bottom Espanyol last week but their form has been slightly erratic as of late.

Valladolid boss Sergio will be hoping his side can climb out of the bottom half with a win but they face a tough task against an in-form Sociedad side on Friday night. 

Real Sociedad have been in fine form recently and currently sixth in the Europa League places

Real Sociedad have been in fine form recently and currently sixth in the Europa League places

Valencia vs Real Betis – Saturday, 3pm

Valencia are currently on a five-game winless run in all competitions, which may provide Real Betis with some confidence going into the Saturday afternoon clash at the Mestalla.

However, while Valencia have struggled to get going, they haven’t let up as they are currently unbeaten at home in the league this season having won six and drawn seven.

Betis will need to be wary of this weekend’s hosts in the second half, which is where Albert Celades’ men have been at their most dangerous, turning four half-time draws into full-time victories at home.

Betis boss Rubi will also be hoping his players can keep their heads going into this weekend’s game, too. In their last four away games in LaLiga, Betis have given up three penalties while also receiving three red cards for their troubles which has seen them drop to 13th in the table.

Should Valladolid walk away with a win at the Anoeta Stadium, Valencia can move into the Europa League places with a victory of their own, which would put them just a point behind Getafe in the Champions League places.

Espanyol vs Atletico Madrid – Sunday, 3pm

With Sevilla playing Osasuna earlier in the day, Atletico will have to match whatever result Julen Lopetegui’s side manage if they want to keep ahold of third.

While they do find themselves in a dog-fight for a Champions League place, Diego Simeone will take comfort in the knowledge that this Sunday’s opponents have been perenial strugglers this season.

Since mid-September, Espanyol have not left the relegation zone and have been rooted to the bottom of the table since early December.

The Catalan club are dangerously flirting with relegation but remain five points adrift of Celta Vigo, who sit just above the drop zone.

Atletico Madrid continue their push to secure Champions League football next season

Atletico Madrid continue their push to secure Champions League football next season

A win for Espanyol could be the turning point in their season and it’s not totally impossible to dream up such a scenario.

In Atletico’s last visit to RCDE Stadium, Simeone’s men were beaten convincingly 3-0 last May while Abelardo Fernandez’s men have won three out of the last five league encounters with Atleti.

The league standings suggests it will be a comfortable win for Atletico but stranger things have happened in LaLiga this season.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona – Sunday, 8pm

LaLiga have saved the best till last. The second Clasico of the season takes place at the Bernabeu and there’s all to play for.

A mouth-watering top of the table clash pits the two fierce rivals against each other once again and this time it could decide who wins the title come the end of the season.

Following the hype around the first Clasico being postponed due to political unrest in Catalonia, Real Madrid left the Nou Camp with a draw that could stand them in good stead in the head-to-head battle should they win on Sunday and then finish level in the title race.

The first Clasico of the season ended goalless at the Nou Camp back in December

The first Clasico of the season ended goalless at the Nou Camp back in December

Their 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp in December was the first Clasico without any goals since 2002 and considering each team’s current form, you can certainly expect another cagey affair.

Both Real and Barca have looked ropey this season and injuries are wreaking havoc ahead of the game.

It will be Quique Setien’s first Clasico as Barcelona boss while Zidane will be hoping his exprience will see him through on the day. 

The visitors will be missing their first choice full-backs, with Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba injured, but Gerard Pique should be fit to play after he limped off with an ankle injury late on in their 1-1 draw with Napoli in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Middlesbrough misfit Braithwaite could make an appearance with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele unlikely to return this season due to serious injuries.

The hosts, on the other hand, are in a rocky patch of their own.

A deflating 2-1 loss against Manchester City on Wednesday, which saw Sergio Ramos sent off, is their third defeat in five games in all competitions while Barca have managed three wins out of five.

Lionel Messi was back to his best as he ended his small goal drought with four against Eibar

Lionel Messi was back to his best as he ended his small goal drought with four against Eibar

Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury

Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard is set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury

Eden Hazard has also been ruled out of the encounter after picking up another injury last week. 

The poor run of results also saw Zinedine Zidane’s men surrender a two-point cushion at the top of LaLiga and now find themselves trailing Barca by that same gap.

Two of the league’s top goalscorers this season, Messi and Karim Benzema, will most certainly be in the starting lineups but questions remain over how the two sides will set up tactically. Will Zidane and Quique Setien be cautious in their approach or go all out attack?

It’s one of the most thrilling LaLiga title races in years and fans can be sure to expect fireworks at the end of another action-packed weekend.

PS

There’s plenty of action going on at the bottom end of the table, with Celta Vigo and Leganes both in action on Saturday as the both to steer clear of relegation.

Celta Vigo have a tough task on their travels at Granada while Leganes host Alaves.

Athletic Bilbao welcome Villarreal to San Mames on Sunday in the lunchtime kick-off while Champions League hopefuls Sevilla and Getafe both have the chance to prove their top-four credentials as they take on Osasuna and Mallorca respectively.

Eibar will be hoping to shake off Barca’s 5-0 dismantling last weekend when they welcome Levante for their Saturday lunchtime kick-off. 

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on LaLigaTV



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